THE ART OF PRESSING FLOWERS
By Betsy MejiaMay 1, 2019
My oldest sister is the sentimental sort. I remember her drying and pressing every flower gathered or gifted to her. Some were collected in a formal manner, such as a dance corsage or caught bridal bouquet. Others were more random and less commemorative, like a wild violet picked from Grandma's yard. She wanted to preserve, and later recall, the memory. We owned a dictionary that was likely 10" thick. Within this fat book, between the alphabetically indexed pages, she tucked her treasures; reminders of a special person, moment or place.
Pressed flowers can be used in decorative ways. You can make a botanical collage for framing or personalize greeting cards. Or, add them to a clear cell phone case.
Freshness is important for proper pressing. The flowers from our shop are fresh. If you're selecting a flower directly from the garden, wait until the sun has dried the morning dew or rain. If you're delayed in pressing your bloom keep it hydrated in water, or store in a sealed plastic storage bag in the frig.
As you might expect, flowers with flat faces press the best. Thicker flowers need to be spliced to lay flat. A rose will keep it's scent long after they've dried. In many cases, a bloom's color will fade. You can avoid this by re-cutting the stem under water then placing the flower in some water (keep it out of direct sunlight.) Remember to always remove any leaves on the stem below the water line to avoid bacteria growth.
Drying the flowers between papers is easy, but has to be done quickly. You don't want brown flowers. You can use printer paper, white tissue, coffee filters or sketch paper. Notice I didn't mention paper towel. Textured paper can leave an imprint on the petals. Layer a couple pieces of paper between the pages of a heavy book. The layers of paper are meant to protect the book pages from moisture. You could also layer wax paper next to the pages. You'll be changing out the paper every week since it absorbs the water from the bloom. Lay your bloom in the center of the paper. Most flowers look best when pressed to show their middle. Remove any obvious stamens to prevent pollen stains. If you're pressing multiple blooms, space them out. Smooth out wrinkles in the delicate petals carefully, close the book and add more weight on top of the book. It will take 3-4 weeks for the flower to completely dry.
Flowers can also be pressed with a dry, low iron for quicker results. Place the bloom between 2 pieces of white, non-textured paper. Press the warm iron on top for 10-15 seconds without moving it (you're not ironing a shirt). Before removing the bloom from between the paper layers, allow 15 seconds to cool. Repeat if necessary.
If you desire to create frameable art with pressed flowers, remember to include leaves. Using a frame with a piece of glass, arrange your flowers and leaves face down on the glass. Carefully, without disturbing your floral pattern, put the back on. Try arranging the blooms to form a letter (a monogram) for gifting.
You can glue pressed flowers onto cardstock to create one-of-a-kind cards. Use decoupage to add them to wooden boxes or ceramic objects.
If you plan to press large amounts of blooms, consider buying a flower press from a craft supplier. If you won't be using them for awhile, store up to a year in an airtight container.
The best flowers for pressing are: violets, daisies, pansies, cosmos, poppies and larkspur.